The Gut Check No. 447: The Devil's Advocate - Footballguys

Matt Waldman goes to the dark side to test your faith in the top 50 players on the board. 

Please allow me to introduce myself.

I'm the dark angel on the left side of Sigmund Bloom's couch.

Last year, I posted a test of faith that instilled spine-tingling, nerve-jangling dread into the soul of every fantasy player who read it in early August. It left the weaker among you so afraid to draft that you ran crying to that beatific, tie-dyed little angel, Bloom for reassurance in his land of bright and shiny toys.

You're hypnotized by Bloom's rays of sunlight and slurp down his rainbow-flavored takes like parched little boys and girls after they chase down the neighborhood snowcone truck on summer's day that's hotter than...home. As much as I love the heat, I favor darkness even more. It's the best way to see the details of the game.

I live in those details.

(I hope you guessed my name.)

Calling me evil is so simplistic. I'm the harbinger of tests. An advocate for doubt. Andy Dalton's patron (yes, A.J. Green, you've been cursed...)

You may not want me, but you need me to put your beliefs on trial. If you still like these players after I get through with them, there's no reason you shouldn't draft them. Otherwise, their names should never cross your lips in 2018.

The Gut Check's devil's advocate (50-1)

50. Lamar Miller: If you need a second running back, that's what he'll give you. There's little upside here. Don't you want the glory of picking a player who outplays his average draft position? My disciple Stringer Bell is correct: Nobody cares about a 40-degree day. I so hate modesty.

49. Russell Wilson: How can such a nice man like Sigmund Bloom hate Russell Wilson so much? Maybe our Footballguys angel isn't so angelic after all. Wilson is such a good guy and a great player. He says all the right things, he has the superstar wife, and he visits sick kids all the time. Don't pay attention to the fact that teammates claim they've never seen Wilson walk by a mirror and he is a stickler for making sure he's invited into their house when he stands in the doorway. He's just a modest and polite young man with a killer instinct on the field. I just wonder if he can continue to carry this offense as a one-man-gang now that Paul Richardson Jr and Jimmy Graham are gone, Amara Darboh isn't working out, and Tyler Lockett is a lesser imitation of Richardson. Maybe it's because Wilson is the only player the Seahawks can afford long-term. Wilson got his Super Bowl, but he and angelic Pete tried to break our agreement a year later. Since then, I've enjoyed watching Wilson suffer through this slow and painful dismantling, one piece at a time.

48. Brandin Cooks: Good thing Jared Goff can throw the ball 60 yards on a line in the deep game because Tommy Boy's deal with me is running out of juice in New England and Cooks doesn't fare well against conflict. Cooks wins running away from opponents; not engaging them. He's never been a red zone threat, either, and that's not going to change in L.A. Yes, my friends, Cooks will replace Sammy Watkins at the split end position but Watkins scored seven touchdowns in the red zone — and many of them contested targets. Cooks has never earned more the four touchdowns as a red zone receiver during his four-year career. What you've seen is what you'll get with Cooks' game — at best. The Rams field a better collection of receiving talent than the Patriots last year and arguably Cooks' first two years with the Saints.

47. Jarvis Landry: Oh, that rousing Hard Knocks speech. It was so inspiring to fantasy analysts and football fans. But did you check out the body language of the receivers in that meeting room? They appeared as inspired as DMV clerks after a day filled with the aged and confused. Landry hasn't proven that he's a deep threat in the NFL — or even an intermediate option for that matter. Landry has never earned fewer than 112 targets and Tyrod Taylor has never delivered more the 95 targets to a single receiver. Landry was a rookie and the 43rd-ranked fantasy receiver when his workload was this light. Unless Landry proves he can win downfield or Taylor throws a lot more short passes in situations where his legs often gain him more than Landry often averaged per catch at Miami, you're tempting fate.

46. Golden Tate: A catch machine and extension of the running game, Kenny Golladay could cut into Tate's targets and the ground game could offer greater volume and efficiency. This could reduce Tate's volume by 35-50 targets and 15-20 receptions. Suddenly Tate is merely a good slot receiver and not a PPR dream.

45. Allen Robinson: People want to hold onto their denial. It's obvious that Robinson's value remains influenced by his 2015 campaign. It's easy to blame Blake Bortles for Robinson's decline in production in 2016 because his yardage was 517 yards less on 1 fewer target and 7 fewer receptions. However, Robinson is now in a new system competing for primary reps in a Matt Nagy offense that could wind up designed to give the slot receivers the most targets. Most people selecting Robinson are expecting this draft spot to be his floor rather than his ceiling. A new system, a new quarterback, a new city, and a reconstructed ACL create compelling doubt.

44. Demaryius Thomas: The hip is fine...trust me...at least until it's not fine, which is when I take a hit from unfriendly fire during the regular season. This year, the Broncos have enough weapons that Thomas could wind up spending extended time in the training room if his chronic issue flares up.

43. Deshaun Watson: Why worry about two ACL tears during his short career? He's quarterback after all. A quarterback that runs the triple-option in the Texans offense. An offense that is relying on its quarterback to win with movement, the threat of the run, and the ability to improvise — things that require quick reflexes, explosive movement, and knee stability. There's nothing to worry about here.

42. JuJu Smith-Schuster: Antonio Brown's presence will create easier matchups for Smith-Schuster, but they won't be as easy without Martavis Bryant in the fold. Say what you will about Bryant, but he commanded attention from no worse than the opponent's No. 2 cornerback. Are we that confident that James Washington will be ready to earn the same attention? Washington is earning praise for his training camp performances but we've seen many a receiver disappear in preseason games and not emerge at all during the year. Smith-Schuster benefitted immensely from awesome zone mismatches last year because of the conundrums that Steelers offensive personnel put opponents in. Smith-Schuster has the skill to deliver top-36 fantasy football production at his position but top-20 production could be a stretch if he faces tougher coverage, Washington delivers early, or Brown isn't healthy enough to command real respect.

41. Jay Ajayi: The Eagles have a good offensive line and LeGarrette Blount is no longer there to steal opportunities from Ajayi, who has prepared himself for a larger workload. However, there's lingering affection for Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, and even Donnell Pumphrey has improved. Ajayi's knee is a ticking time bomb and the Eagles love to spread the workload around. Although Ajayi isn't bad from pistol sets, he's ideally an I-formation back stuck on an offense that must use more pistol to get the best from Carson Wentz — and this was prior to Wentz's injury that will require more time than he's taken to regain the lateral movement that's required to do more than hop, stop, and throw. Ajayi is a good player, but is this a good fit? The details reveal legitimate questions.

40. Alex Collins: The Ravens starter should never have made it out of Seattle and with Marshal Yanda back, this offensive line will likely become a force as a run unit. Collins not much of a factor inside the opponent's five, only scoring once and earning six yards on five carries. If Kenneth Dixon can ever stay healthy, he could earn green zone looks at Collins' expense — or lose opportunities to Lamar Jackson if Jackson earns the starting quarterback spot at some point and his legs become a substitute for running back attempts.

39. Derrick Henry: The best chance for Henry to deliver high-end fantasy starter production was in the previous regime's "exotic smashmouth" offense. He couldn't overtake Demarco Murray and it's unlikely that he'll eliminate Dion Lewis from significant playing time. While Henry is an underrated receiver, he's still a work in progress as a pass protector and he lacks Lewis' agility to create when the line falters. The fact that he's leaving boards earlier than Guice is laughable. He's a big back in a spread offense that will lean more on Lewis once it's defense struggles for another year and leaves the Titans offense in pass-oriented game scripts.

38. Larry Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald has become the Jarvis Landry of the NFC since 2012. If Christian Kirk forces Fitzgerald to the outside more often, we might see him post 2012-like production — an ugly 71-798-4 stat-line that was only good enough for 42nd among fantasy receivers back then. There was also the horrific 2014 effort of 63-784-2 that was bad enough for 56th among fantasy receivers. The tandem of Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen will likely be better than what the Cardinals had after Carson Palmer's one good season in town. However, the only thing older than Fitzgerald in fantasy football is this column — and just barely.

37. Kenyan Drake: I don't care what Adam Gase's reasons to the media were for placing Drake and Frank Gore as co-starters. Drake must prove that he has the intelligence and footwork to create in traffic. Right now, he's a daylight runner. When it's there, he looks great. When it's not, he's just as liable to jump cut into the backside blocker and knock himself to the ground as he is getting jammed up and tackled by a defender. Gore may lack Drake's athletic ability but understands how to play the position as well as any running back in the league. He won't break 50-yard runs through big creases, but he'll earn a lot of 5-yard gains where Drake would suffer minor losses. Go ahead and take the seductive athletic ability of Drake. Athletic lust is one of my favorite sins.

36. Derrius Guice: A good young running back on a team that is finally supposed to have a decent offensive line but hasn't proven as such in years, Guice earns an opportunity to wrap up the every-down role this month because Chris Thompson isn't ready to contribute at a high level due to his broken leg. However, we've seen Jay Gruden lose his mind over mistakes and if Guice fumbles the ball early or makes mental errors, Gruden is the type to blow up the plan and impose a committee. The Grudens are my favorite coaches because they embody the sin of wrath and overreact to everything. If this doesn't happen, there's still the risk of the Washington defense failing and forcing pass-heavy game scripts. Listen, I tried to get everyone to believe that Guice was bad news so he'd drop to the mid-rounds of the NFL Draft and that didn't work so I'm working with scraps here.

35. LeSean McCoy: Besides the fact that McCoy is under investigation for home invasion perpetrated on his ex-girlfriend, the Bills lost three starting offensive linemen and did not adequately replace them. Although Bills fans mostly believe it's 'good riddance' to Tyrod Taylor, they aren't giving Taylor his just due as a viable extra man for opposing defenses to consider in the run game. Before the current Bills staff dismantled a top-tier ground game in 2017, Taylor's presence kept opponents off-balance. Josh Allen, Justin McCarron, and Nate Peterman lack this dimension. They also lack true NFL experience and they're likely missing a competent offensive line. Don't expect the quarterbacks to McCoy into as many favorable running plays and count on Buffalo's line forcing McCoy to do a lot on his own to get a lot less than he did even last year. Your best chance of McCoy performing well is if he becomes a massive check-down option who collects 80-90 receptions as a garbage-time target.

34. Amari Cooper: Will Cooper hold onto the ball this year? Will he get open like he did two years ago? If he doesn't early on, will Jon Gruden blow a gasket and funnel the offense through Jordy Nelson and Ryan Switzer? Which Cooper will show up? Confidence is an elusive thing once it's lost at the highest level and the wrath of Gruden could easily set this implosion in motion.

33. Zach Ertz: Once upon a time in the town of San Diego, there was a rookie tight end playing second fiddle to the longtime red zone security blanket. That rookie scored touchdowns in bunches and at the expense of the longtime security blanket because the Chargers' two-tight end sets diverted the focus from the youngster. The same story could happen in Philadelphia, especially when that rookie has Jimmy Graham-like skill with the ball in the air. The potential two-tight end dynamic for the Eagles could lead fantasy teams to rename their struggling squads to "Hurt by Ertz" at mid-season.

32. Stefon Diggs: Last year, I warned that Diggs could wind up an overpriced Jamison Crowder. Instead, he was twice as good in the end zone while slightly better in every other statistical category. But now, Diggs gets the quarterback who has shaped the early part of Crowder's career. Diggs has a lot more to offer than Crowder on the vertical end of the passing game but does Kirk Cousins have the skill to create under pressure that Case Keenum showed last year? Cousins faced his own issues in Washington, but he's not as mobile as Keenum and he's not a good off-script option, which is where Diggs and Adam Thielen often thrive. Then there's the potential that Cousins builds a greater rapport with Adam Thielen and the improving Laquon Treadwell. The greatest risk here is that Cousins reduces Diggs to a Crowder-like player. However, is there really any top-12 upside to Diggs if this doesn't happen?

31. Doug Baldwin: While Baldwin is an excellent receiver and one of the best big-play slot options in the league, who is left in this receiving corps to take the heat off him? Jermaine Kearse is gone and doing underrated work with the Jets. Paul Richardson Jr has been seen as a poor man's Tyler Lockett, but Seattle fans about to find out that assessment is backward. Jaron Brown? Maybe. Amara Darboh? Not yet. Brandon Marshall? Can he make the team? None of these tight ends are remotely in Jimmy Graham's league as a receiver. Baldwin is about to see a high dosage of bracket coverage. He'll produce, but not like recent years. On a personal note, I love how fantasy players are always one or two years behind the present with their assessments. It's a fertile garden for their suffering. Doug Baldwin's fantasy productivity will shake you like he shakes slot corners at the line of scrimmage.

30. Adam Thielen: Since his college years, Cousins has managed pressure in the pocket like he has Brett Favre's arm. Thielen and Diggs do a lot of work from the slot and they're adept at finding open space in traffic when a play breaks down. Is Cousins good enough to find these receivers as often as Keenum? While I'm convinced that Thielen is a legitimate NFL starter with fantasy WR1 upside, I'm not convinced Cousins is the guy to keep Thielen there.

29. Tyreek Hill: Kansas City's spread offense took the NFL by surprise last year. Some of the most compelling data is the fact that the scheme turned Alex Smith into statistically, the best vertical thrower in the game last year. Smith's production was never remotely this good for the prior dozen years he's played in the NFL and it's unlikely a coincidence that Smith's receivers earned more separation than any corps in the league. Smith was targeting receivers who were running free like Cecil Lammey roasting second graders in the park. Smith also operated a lot more one-read looks than what the media is seeing with Patrick Mahomes, who is making more full-field reads and tight-window throws. While there are reports of Hill winning the ball in the air against tight coverage, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley, and Demarcus Robinson are all vastly better suited for these targets. If Hill's production slides, it's because Mahomes offers more opportunities to a greater variety of receivers.

28. Aaron Rodgers: Randall Cobb's body is getting old, fantasy analysts think Jimmy Graham has lost a step, and the Packers offensive line couldn't hold itself up much less its quarterbacks. Rodgers is taking his criticism of the young receivers at the bottom the depth chart to the media during camp. While Jake Kumerow has some of Jordy Nelson's talents it would be a shocker if the Cincinnati Bengals let Kumerow's game wilt on the vine while playing the likes of Tyler Boyd and Brandon LaFell. Even if you're not buying that Rodgers will struggle due to his receiving corps and offensive line, why are you taking a quarterback this early? You can take two after the ninth round and likely guess right on a pair of players who will match Rodgers' hit rate as a fantasy QB1.

27. T.Y. Hilton: Andrew Luck is finally healthy — at least for the summer. When the fall comes, he'll be behind an offensive line that has allowed more free hits to its quarterback than any team in the league save the Seahawks and Panthers — and that depends on the years you measure for cumulative hits. Is All-American guard Quenton Nelson going to save him? Not by himself. And as good as Nelson is at the physical act of blocking, he still has to master the calls and adjustments in game situations he's never experienced. Tell me how much you enjoyed having Hilton on your roster with Jacoby Brissett under center?

26. Travis Kelce: Before Sammy Watkins and Patrick Mahomes, Kelce was the No.1 option on his team. Alex Smith didn't throw back-shoulder fades or a lot of tight-window targets. While Mahomes will do so, he'll also read the entire field more often than Smith. It means the 1-2 dominance of Kelce and Hill may come to an end. We may see more red zone looks for Kelce temporarily. However, once teams catch on — and they'll potentially catch on quickly — Mahomes could begin targeting Watkins, Conley, and Robinson — leaving Kelce's production to dry up. It's doubtful Kelce will fall from the top five at his position, but is he really worth the second overall spot at the position? I think so, but there's reason for doubt.

25. Joe Mixon: As I said before, athletic lust is my favorite fantasy footballers sin. It makes players forget that there are 5-7 other important players in the success of a running back. Well, at least until that stud back struggles for a year behind a bad offensive line and half of the fantasy playing society suspects that stud was a fraud. Misplaced wrath is my second-favorite fantasy footballers sin. This is what may happen heading into 2019 if the Bengals offensive line doesn't dramatically improve this year and Mixon performs with similar inconsistency as 2017. The magical thinking that most fantasy owners have when fueled by athletic lust is a sight to behold. Perhaps they can "will" the Cincinnati line to play better. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

24. Jordan Howard: The big man played through a painful shoulder injury last year that often required his teammates to help him off the ground. And you wonder why his receiving targets and yardage decreased dramatically last year. Even so, Howard's catch rate increased. He's a tough running back but will he last? He's a grinder coming off a shoulder injury? Will he be more susceptible to shoulder injuries moving forward? It's body part Jene Bramel worries about the most for runners. Can Tarik Cohen earn enough production to cut into Howard while on the field at the same time as Howard in a slot-scat back hybrid role?

23. Rob Gronkowski: Carved into Bloom's eco-friendly tree gravesite will be his epitaph: "Gronkowski is a first-round fantasy pick." In 12-team and 14-team PPR leagues, Gronkowski has only earned first-round pick production in 2011. Since then, he's only been among the top-15 producers once when filtering fantasy points to non-quarterbacks. Once. Yes, he performs like a first-round pick when he's healthy but his health has always been a shaky factor and why do you want to add extra tight ends to your roster despite already paying a premium for Gronkowski? It's wasteful. Hmm...look at my buddy Bloom showing that pride and sloth. I'll be sure to pay my respects at Bloom's site with a pocket knife: "Gronkowski was a first-round fantasy pick in 2011."

22. Mike Evans: Everyone blames Jameis Winston for Evans' red zone woes. However, Evans isn't particularly adept at earning the correct position. Many of the targets that analysts fault as an overthrow are little more than a well-placed anticipation pass that a fade is supposed to be, but Evans could not earn the position to reach that spot. People don't realize that wide receivers dictate the fade as much, if not more than quarterbacks. Evans is supposed to be a great red zone option but he's not. It wouldn't be surprising if Evans goes down in Buccaneers history as one of the more underrated long-term disappointments relative to his salary. He's a good receiver, but it's difficult to count on him as a rebound candidate (or a red zone rebounder) until he improves his route running on the routes that he's counted on the most.

21. Jerick McKinnon: You realize that Matt Breida may earn more production during several weeks of the season than McKinnon, right? That's what ESPN's Bob Graziano believes after attending 49ers training camp. Tevin Coleman out-produced Devonta Freeman in six games last year, although Freeman didn't play in three of those games and it was Steve Sarkisian at the wheel of Kyle Shanahan's offense. However, in 2016, Coleman out-performed Freeman in five games when Shanahan was at the wheel. Even so, Freeman was worth his price. Yet, the Falcons have been a better offense than the 49ers and have a superior offensive line. Freeman is also a better runner than McKinnon and McKinnon is new to this team and scheme. There are a lot of question marks to have this kind of value for McKinnon.

20. Davante Adams: He has matured into a fine receiver, but he benefitted from Brett Hundley only having the time and skill to complete a majority of his passes to his first read. Even so, Adams had 11 red zone touchdowns in 2016 when Rodgers was healthy. Yet, Jimmy Graham could cut into that total. So could an improved ground game with Jamaal Williams as the red zone banger. When you look at Adams' career, his yardage has never been on par with top receivers, so if his touchdown totals drop, his fantasy value could sink with it.

19. A.J. Green: Andy Dalton is my favorite redhead. He's personally done more to keep Green from being mentioned ahead of Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr, and Antonio Brown than anyone. Here's to another year of an errant Dalton pass wrecking Green's season.

18. Devonta Freeman: He missed most of three games last year with a concussion. He's a hard runner who accelerates into contact. I love that about running backs. However, he's a smaller back and his brand of finishing runs can lead to break-downs. If he's not quite right, Tevin Coleman is good enough to earn more touches at Freeman's expense. And, even if he is, Austin Hooper and Eric Saubert may have developed enough to pose a threat in the red zone that further decreases Freeman's touchdown totals.

17. Christian McCaffrey: I'm not worried about his size — even before the added muscle. However, I know you athlete lusters are. I'm not worried about C.J. Anderson — a good running back capable of top-12 fantasy production if he earns a full workload and actually stays healthy for once. However, I know you greedy fantasy players who only value lead backs without competition on the depth chart. I am concerned about the Panthers overthinking its usage of McCaffrey. They did this last year by trying to make him a gadget player after he already proved at Stanford — the most traditional NFL-like power team in college football — that he excelled in traditional alignments. Norv Turner claims the offense is targeting McCaffrey for 25 touches per game. That's unlikely for most backs in the league. Will Turner have some hackneyed ideas about using McCaffrey that were once innovative 25 years ago or will he stay out of the way and let McCaffrey be a running back?

16. Keenan Allen: 2017 was his first complete season in his five-year career and he beat that prior two-year game total by a month's worth of games. Not good for a player who relies on explosive movement and works in an area of the field that's crowded with safeties and linebackers.

15. Michael Thomas: Drew Brees can support multiple fantasy starters in the passing game, but will the offense lean more on the passing game after its success on the ground with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II. There's no doubt that Michael Thomas will be a focal point of the offense and that the Saints have a history of making its inside receivers the primary targets of the passing game. They've been doing this since Marques Colston entered the league in 2006. However, the addition of Cameron Meredith and Ben Watson raise some questions that could lower Thomas' ceiling this year. Meredith reminds the staff of Colston in terms of his skills and how they intend to use him. Watson was a Pro Bowl option for the Saints three years ago. Could their presence lead to more snaps with Thomas as a perimeter receiver? While an excellent young player, I spoke with a receivers coach who shared that Thomas still has development ahead of him as a complete route runner — and the perimeter game is where some of those weaknesses are. This might be the year where Thomas settles into the lower end of top-15 territory at his position and if you're expecting him to ascend, the swing could leaving you feeling sick by late October.

14. Dalvin Cook: By most accounts, Cook appears healthy and ready for the year. A talented back, Cook showed enough to fantasy players last year that they're counting on him as a borderline RB1 in fantasy lineups. A deeper look at Cook's game logs raises the question: Would Cook's workload has been similar to Jerick McKinnon's or Latavius Murray's if he stayed healthy last year? It's hard to imagine Cook earned the combined workload of these two backs because the touch count would have been higher than any back in football. So if the touches were similar to these lead backs, it's also difficult to project that Cook would have been significantly more productive. McKinnon was 17th among PPR fantasy backs last year and 8th among runners when was the lead back between Weeks 5-13. Murray was 19th between Weeks 15-17. It doesn't help that McKinnon faced a soft schedule of Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Cleveland, Washington, and the Rams during that stretch. Cook might reach his projected ADP in value but the Vikings have a tougher looking schedule than last year. I'd still take him but I'm here to raise doubt.

13. Julio Jones: Who earns 171 catches for 2,853 yards during a two-year span and can't even break double-digit touchdowns? It's an indictment against the offense, the staff, and the player — especially last year because 6 of those touchdowns happened before Steve Sarkisian took over Kyle Shanahan's offense in 2017. Jones leaves the field A LOT for a primary fantasy option — not by design, but because of a lingering injury to his ankle. He misses series and as the season progresses, he misses practices. If this truly is a lingering issue he could begin to miss halves of games and perhaps weeks of time as he ages. He is approaching 30 and earned a contract revision rather than new deal, which means Atlanta is wary of being stuck with a broken-down Jones. Are you worried?

12. Leonard Fournette: Speaking of ankles, if you're worried about Jones, Fournette's timer could be on a lower setting than Jones. The amount of pounding, cutting, and collisions he faces is 2-3 times as frequent as Jones. Fournette is a fantasy paradox because the more work he gets, the greater the risk his ankle, which Jene Bramel has said will never get better and at best, only gradually worse. Will he wear out fast (3-4 years) or will we wear out faster (2-3 months)?

11. Kareem Hunt: Could Spencer Ware or Damien Williams really eat into Hunt's volume? If Hunt hasn't improved as a pass protector, absolutely. Hunt was only allowed to do basic work as a blocker last year and it only began mid-season. Ware and Williams are proven blockers and good receivers with red zone skills. Andy Reid has often employed red zone backs and a healthy Ware would be a perfect candidate for this plan. Hunt earned 11 touchdowns last year and 8 of them came on red zone touches. Take away three-quarters of those looks last year and Hunt remains a top-12 back last year, but he has more in common with the bottom half of the top-15 than the top 5.

10. Melvin Gordon III: You know you want a more exciting back than Gordon. C'mon, where's your pride? Gordon has been nothing but a grinder; a plodder in the disguise of a big-play runner from his college days. You're never going to see that from him. He's no Kenyan Drake (thank goodness)...

9. Odell Beckham Jr, Jr.: Can Eli Manning stay upright in this offense or will it become a check-down to Saquon Barkley scheme? Beckham's yards-per-reception totals are trending in that direction ever since the offensive line has become a weak link. Forget volume, you know you want to be greedy with those efficiencies.

8. DeAndre Hopkins: Every other year since his 2014 breakout, Hopkins touchdown totals have fluctuated from double-digits to mid-range single digits. The same is true of his targets swinging from 170-plus to less than 155. Quarterback consistency has been the underlying issue. If you believe Deshaun Watson can stay healthy on two surgically repaired ACLs, great. If not, Hopkins won't be worth your time.

7. Saquon Barkley: Remember Reggie Bush? He was considered the next Gale Sayers. Bush earned 265 fantasy points in PPR leagues as a rookie in 2006. The rushing efficiency wasn't strong because he tried to be the hero and bounce too many runs outside or reverse field when there were yards available to keep the offense on a reasonable down-and-distance schedule. Even so, those 265 points equated to fantasy production on pair with Barkley's current ADP — back then and now. However, Eli Manning is no Drew Brees and the Giants offensive line is a massive question mark. To raise additional questions, Barkley was much more of a stop-start and bounce-out runner than even Bush, who did a much better job of hitting creases up the middle with consistent authority than the hindsight narratives that developed about him after a couple of years in the NFL. Bush thought he needed to be Touchdown Jesus, the Savior of Katrina-Ravaged New Orleans and do too much. Pride might influence Barkley to try the same. If Barkley avoids the temptations of gluttony, greed, and pride, he'll match his ADP value. If I'll be collecting souls of those lusting after the extreme athlete.

6. Alvin Kamara: If Kamara reverts to his college behavior with ball security and decision-making, he could have the biggest one-year swing from hero to goat in a long time. I don't expect it, but young players can get too comfortable too early. Or, they press too hard when injuries hit the offensive line.

5. Antonio Brown: I'm not even going to try.

4. David Johnson: Carson Palmer could take hits. Can Sam Bradford? Can Josh Rosen? When Palmer was the quarterback at least there was enough of a threat to pass that Johnson could function behind a mediocre offensive line. Do you really want to invest in a back this early who has question marks at the two areas that have the greatest impact on his production?

3. Ezekiel Elliott: I believe in Dak Prescott despite concerns about his wide receivers because the presence or absence of Dez Bryant wasn't enough to hold back Prescott as a fantasy QB1. The only thing I still have doubts surrounding Elliott is his off-field behavior. Has he grown up or is he temporarily succeeding at hiding his bad behavior?

2. Le'Veon Bell: Unless greed and slot get the best of him off the field and impacts his health on it, Bell's skills and surrounding talent are too good for me to question.

1. Todd Gurley: The Rams offensive line will need to fall apart or Jared Goff will need to get hurt for Gurley's production to plummet this year. Until then, I can't test your will.